This anthology of essays on the work of David Kaplan, a leading contemporary philosopher of language, sprang from a conference, "Themes from Kaplan," organized by the Center for the Study of Language and Information at Stanford University.
Is Bayesian decision theory a panacea for many of the problems in epistemology and the philosophy of science, or is it philosophical snake-oil? For years a debate had been waged amongst specialists regarding the import and legitimacy of this body of theory. Mark Kaplan had written the first accessible and non-technical book to address this controversy. Introducing a new variant on Bayesian decision theory the author offers a compelling case that, while no panacea, decision theory does in fact have (...) the most profound consequences for the way in which philosophers think about inquiry, criticism and rational belief. The new variant on Bayesian theory is presented in such a way that a non-specialist will be able to understand it. The book also offers new solutions to some classic paradoxes. It focuses on the intuitive motivations of the Bayesian approach to epistemology and addresses the philosophical worries to which it has given rise. (shrink)
In 'Hempel and Oppenheim on Explanation', (see preceding article) Eberle, Kaplan, and Montague criticize the analysis of explanation offered by Hempel and Oppenheim in their 'Studies in the Logic of Explanation'. These criticisms are shown to be related to the fact that Hempel and Oppenheim's analysis fails to satisfy simultaneously three newly proposed criteria of adequacy for any analysis of explanation. A new analysis is proposed which satisfies these criteria and thus is immune to the criticisms brought against the (...) earlier analysis. (shrink)
Will a synthesis of developmental and evolutionary biology require a focus on the role of nongenetic resources in evolution? Nongenetic variation may exist but be hidden because the phenotypes are stable (developmentally canalized) under certain background conditions. In this case, those differences may come to play important roles in evolution when background conditions change. If this is so, then a focus on the way that developmental resources are made reliable, and the ways in which reliability fails, may prove to be (...) of crucial importance to linking developmental and evolutionary biology. †To contact the author, please write to: 208 Hovland Hall, Philosophy Department, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331‐3902; e‐mail: email@example.com. (shrink)
Recently, Estes and Arnold claimed to have “solved” the paradox of evolutionary stasis; they claim that stabilizing selection, and only stabilizing selection, can explain the patterns of evolutionary divergence observed over “all timescales.” While Estes and Arnold clearly think that they have identified the processes that produce evolutionary stasis, they have not. Instead, Estes and Arnold identify a particular evolutionary pattern but not the processes that produce that pattern. This mistake is important; the slippage between pattern and process is common (...) in population and quantitative genetics and contributes to a persistent misunderstanding of the nature of explanations in evolutionary biology. †To contact the author, please write to: Philosophy Department, 208 Hovland Hall, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331‐3902; e‐mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. (shrink)
In her latest book, Dr. Louise Kaplan, author of the groundbreaking Female Perversions, explores the fetishism strategy, a psychological defense that aims to tame, subdue, and if necessary, murder human vitalities. Through an exploration of such cultural phenomena as footbinding, reality television, and the construction of robots, Kaplan demonstrates how, in a technology-driven world, an understanding of the fetishism strategy can help to preserve the human dialogue that is the basis of all human relationships. Kaplan writes from (...) the heart as well as from the intellect. (shrink)
Part 1 sets out the logical/semantical background to ‘On Denoting’, including an exposition of Russell's views in Principles of Mathematics, the role and justification of Frege's notorious Axiom V, and speculation about how the search for a solution to the Contradiction might have motivated a new treatment of denoting. Part 2 consists primarily of an extended analysis of Russell's views on knowledge by acquaintance and knowledge by description, in which I try to show that the discomfiture between Russell's semantical and (...) epistemological commitments begins as far back as 1903. I close with a non-Russellian critique of Russell's views on how we are able to make use of linguistic representations in thought and with the suggestion that a theory of comprehension is needed to supplement semantic theory. (shrink)
One important but infrequently discussed difficulty with expressivism is the attitude type individuation problem.1 Expressivist theories purport to provide a unified account of normative states. Judgments of moral goodness, beauty, humor, prudence, and the like, are all explicated in the same way: as expressions of attitudes, what Allan Gibbard calls “states of norm-acceptance”. However, expressivism also needs to explain the difference between these different sorts of attitude. It is possible to judge that a thing is both aesthetically good and morally (...) bad. While the realist can explain the difference by suggesting that each judgment makes reference to a different property (or set of properties), the expressivist cannot. She must show that what is expressed by the speaker is different in each case. This has proven to be difficult to do. (shrink)
We attempt to improve the understanding of the notion of agene being `for a phenotypic trait or traits. Considering theimplicit functional ascription of one thing being `for another,we submit a more restrictive version of `gene for talk.Accordingly, genes are only to be thought of as being forphenotypic traits when good evidence is available that thepresence or prevalence of the gene in a population is the resultof natural selection on that particular trait, and that theassociation between that trait and the gene (...) in question isdemonstrably causal. It is therefore necessary to gatherstatistical, biochemical, historical, as well as ecologicalinformation before properly claiming that a gene is for aphenotypic trait. Instead of hampering practical use of the `genefor talk, our approach aims at stimulating much needed researchinto the functional ecology and comparative evolutionary biologyof gene action. (shrink)
Biological research on race has often been seen as motivated by or lending credence to underlying racist attitudes; in part for this reason, recently philosophers and biologists have gone through great pains to essentially deny the existence of biological human races. We argue that human races, in the biological sense of local populations adapted to particular environments, do in fact exist; such races are best understood through the common ecological concept of ecotypes. However, human ecotypic races do not in general (...) correspond with 'folk' racial categories, largely because many similar ecotypes have multiple independent origins. Consequently, while human natural races exist, they have little or nothing in common with 'folk' races. (shrink)
Biological research on race has often been seen as motivated by or lending credence to underlying racist attitudes; in part for this reason, recently philosophers and biologists have gone through great pains to essentially deny the existence of biological human races. We argue that human races, in the biological sense of local populations adapted to particular environments, do in fact exist; such races are best understood through the common ecological concept of ecotypes. However, human ecotypic races do not in general (...) correspond with ‘folk’ racial categories, largely because many similar ecotypes have multiple independent origins. Consequently, while human natural races exist, they have little or nothing in common with ‘folk’ races. (shrink)
The works of the later Wittgenstein resonate with aspects of the pragmatist tradition in American philosophy. Davidson’s work is similarly informed. We argue that because of their association with the pragmatist tradition, their work can be put to use by philosophers interested in social justice issues, including, for example, feminism, and critical race theory. Philosophers concerned with social justice continue to struggle between the extremes of an untenable foundationalism and a radical relativism. Given their holistic understanding of knowledge, meaning and (...) communication, the work of Wittgenstein and Davidson is particularly suited to dissolving the foundationalist/relativist dichotomy. We explore how this and other features of their work facilitates philosophy for social change. (shrink)
Moral philosophers who differ from one another on a wide range of questions tend to agree on at least one general point. Most believe that things are worth valuing either because of their relationship to something else worth valuing, or because they are simply (in themselves) worth valuing. I value my car, because I value getting to work; I value getting to work, because I value making money and spending time productively; and I value those things because I value leading (...) a fulﬁlling life—and that valuing needs no justiﬁcation. The values that need to be justiﬁed by other values are extrinsic; those that do not are intrinsic. Most traditional philosophical approaches to value justiﬁcation are foundational in this sense: intrinsic values provide a foundation upon which other values can be justiﬁed. (shrink)
A psychology, Phenomenology and ontology of creativity developed by this french epistemologist and historian of science (1884-1962) are systematically described. Starting from analysis of image networks in literature, Bachelard presents imagination as autonomous, A power of human transcendence, A force preceding perception and memory. He ultimately surpasses psychological reductionism. Imagination of form is inferior to imagination of matter (depth); yet they both are secondary to dynamic imagination. Bachelard's fundamental method is a phenomenological study of images as origins of consciousness; a (...) phenomenology of reverie and writing underlies his ontology. Reverie is the model upon which imaginative consciousness is judged. Man should extend the freedom and beauty of his inner cosmos to enhance relation with the world. (shrink)
The topic of this essay is how non-realistic novels challenge our philosophical understanding of the moral significance of literature. I consider just one case: Joseph Heller’s Catch-22. I argue that standard philosophical views, based as they are on realistic models of literature, fail to capture the moral significance of this work. I show that Catch-22 succeeds morally because of the ways it resists using standard realistic techniques, and suggest that philosophical discussion of ethics and literature must be pluralistic if it (...) is to include all morally salient literature, and not just novels in the “Great Tradition” and their ilk. (shrink)
Hempel and Oppenheim, in their paper 'The Logic of Explanation', have offered an analysis of the notion of scientific explanation. The present paper advances considerations in the light of which their analysis seems inadequate. In particular, several theorems are proved with roughly the following content: between almost any theory and almost any singular sentence, certain relations of explainability hold.
Rachlin's thought-provoking analysis could be strengthened by greater openness to evolutionary interpretation and the use of the directed attention concept as a component of self-control. His contribution to the understanding of prosocial behavior would also benefit from abandoning the traditional (and excessively restrictive) definition of altruism.
The Depue & Collins model is intended to explain a normal human personality trait: extraversion. In contrast, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is generally considered to be a type of psychopathology not found in so-called normals; however, the clinical and neurobiological research done on ADHD seems to amplify and support Depue & Collins's model.
Immoralists hold that in at least some cases, moral ﬂ aws in artworks can increase their aesthetic value. They deny what I call the valence constraint: the view that any effect that an artwork’s moral value has on its aesthetic merit must have the same valence. The immoralist offers three arguments against the valence constraint. In this paper I argue that these arguments fail, and that this failure reveals something deep and interesting about the relationship between cognitive and moral value. (...) In the ﬁ nal section I offer a positive argument for the valence constraint. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that there is good reason to believe that we can be influenced by fictions in ways that matter morally, and some of the time we will be unaware that we have been so influenced. These arguments fall short of proving a clear causal link between fictions and specific changes in the audience, but they do reveal rather interesting and complex features of the moral psychology of fiction. In particular, they reveal that some Platonic worries about (...) the dangers of art cannot be dismissed lightly. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that in at least some interesting cases, the moral value of a narrative work depends on the aesthetic properties of that artwork. It does not follow that a work that is aesthetically bad will be morally bad (or that it will be morally good). The argument comprises four stages. First I describe several different features of imaginative engagement with narrative artworks. Then I show that these features depend on some of the aesthetic properties of those (...) works. Third, I argue that these same features of imaginative engagement are morally salient, by virtue of inviting more or less sophisticated and reflective moral responses. Finally, I show that the overall moral value of an artwork depends in part on whether or not the prescribed response is simple or complex, passive or reflective. (shrink)
In the first section of the article, we examine some recent criticisms of the connectionist enterprise: first, that connectionist models are fundamentally behaviorist in nature (and, therefore, non-cognitive), and second that connectionist models are fundamentally associationist in nature (and, therefore, cognitively weak). We argue that, for a limited class of connectionist models (feed-forward, pattern-associator models), the first criticism is unavoidable. With respect to the second criticism, we propose that connectionist modelsare fundamentally associationist but that this is appropriate for building models (...) of human cognition. However, we do accept the point that there are cognitive capacities for which any purely associative model cannot provide a satisfactory account. The implication that we draw from is this is not that associationist models and mechanisms should be scrapped, but rather that they should be enhanced.In the next section of the article, we identify a set of connectionist approaches which are characterized by “active symbols” — recurrent circuits which are the basis of knowledge representation. We claim that such approaches avoid criticisms of behaviorism and are, in principle, capable of supporting full cognition. In the final section of the article, we speculate at some length about what we believe would be the characteristics of a fully realized active symbol system. This includes both potential problems and possible solutions (for example, mechanisms needed to control activity in a complex recurrent network) as well as the promise of such systems (in particular, the emergence of knowledge structures which would constitute genuine internal models). (shrink)
The concepts of adaptive/fitness landscapes and adaptive peaks are a central part of much of contemporary evolutionary biology; the concepts are introduced in introductory texts, developed in more detail in graduate-level treatments, and are used extensively in papers published in the major journals in the field. The appeal of visualizing the process of evolution in terms of the movement of populations on such landscapes is very strong; as one becomes familiar with the metaphor, one often develops the feeling that it (...) is possible to gain deep insights into evolution by thinking about the movement of populations on landscapes consisting of adaptive valleys and peaks. But, since Wright first introduced the metaphor in 1932, the metaphor has been the subject of persistent confusion, from equivocation over just what the features of the landscape are meant to represent to how we ought to expect the landscapes to look. Recent advances—conceptual, empirical, and computational—have pointed towards the inadequacy and indeed incoherence of the landscapes as usually pictured. I argue that attempts to reform the metaphor are misguided; it is time to give up the pictorial metaphor of the landscape entirely and rely instead on the results of formal modeling, however difficult such results are to understand in ‘intuitive’ terms. (shrink)
IT IS DIFFICULT for me to read Pride and Prejudice without empathizing either with Elizabeth Bennet, or sometimes with her father, Mr Bennet. Not only do my own responses to and opinions of the events and characters of the book at times resemble theirs, but even when they do not, I find myself seeing the event from Elizabeth’s or Mr Bennet’s point of view. For example, at the close of the book, Elizabeth’s former dislike of Mr Darcy has completely vanished, (...) in part because of learning of a number of good deeds that Mr Darcy has done very quietly for their family. When Mr Darcy proposes to Elizabeth (for the second time) she is delighted to accept him. However, everyone else in Elizabeth’s family despises Mr Darcy, and they also believe that Elizabeth still hates him. So it is easy to understand Mr Bennet’s surprise and distaste when Mr Darcy asks Mr Bennet for Elizabeth’s hand; after all, Mr Bennet still believes Mr Darcy to be prideful and haughty. While I am not myself surprised to hear Elizabeth’s response—the reader learns much more of Mr Darcy’s character than Mr Bennet does—I do have the experience of imagining being surprised. I am also capable of empathizing with Elizabeth, who is excited, flustered, and a bit ashamed at having so misjudged Mr Darcy early on, and I can imagine having these feelings for people I have misjudged. I can (to some degree) understand why she finds explaining all this to Mr Bennet so difficult. I go back and forth, as I read, between the perspectives of Mr Bennet and Elizabeth. These experiences of mine are experiences of the sort that I call ‘empathizing with fictions’, although we sometimes might describe such experiences by saying that we ‘identified’ with a particular character or characters in a story. (shrink)